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Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula - Maya, Monkeys & Turtles

Tour Code: MEX04

An 11-day holiday to Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula focusing on the region's abundant wildlife and the ancient Maya cities of Tulum, Chichen Itza and Coba.

11 days from £3595(inc flights) Land Only Price: £3095 SRS: £595


After a flight to Cancun, we begin our holiday on the Caribbean coast with a 4-night stay in the town of Akumal, which means ‘Place of Turtles’ in the native Mayan language. During our stay we will learn more about the four species of marine turtle occurring here, enjoy snorkelling with Green Turtles in the shallow waters, and spend a day at the Maya ruins at Tulum. The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve lies just south of the spectacular ruins at Tulum, and we’ll explore its wetlands mostly by boat in search of manatees, and birds such as Black Skimmer and Mangrove Warbler. Next we journey inland, where we’ll enjoy a walk led by local Maya guides through forests to look for Spider Monkeys as well as a visit to the Maya temples and pyramids at Coba. We will also have a full day visit to the spectacular Maya ruins of Chichen Itza, and at our nearby eco-hotel we will look for mammals including Northern Tamandua and White-nosed Coati, and birds such as Yucatan Jay and Keel-billed Toucan. Lastly, we return to the coast for a stay at a beachside hotel and exploration of Rio Lagartos Biosphere Reserve, where the sight of hundreds of American Flamingoes awaits us, as well as boat trips to explore mangroves.

  • Includes 4-night stay on the beautiful Caribbean coast at Akumal
  • Chance to swim amongst Green Turtles as they feed on seagrass beds
  • Explore the Maya ruins at Tulum
  • West Indian Manatees, American Crocodile & 300+ bird species inhabit Sian Ka’an
  • Jabiru Stork, Reddish Egret & Black-headed Trogon among birdlife at Sian Ka’an
  • Howler Monkeys & Geoffroy’s Spider Monkeys in forests near Coba
  • Walk among the Maya ruins at Coba, surrounded by dense jungle
  • Optional refreshing dip in a ‘cenote’ (flooded limestone sinkhole)
  • Collared Aracari, Turquoise-browed Motmot & Oscellated Turkey, Chichen Itza
  • Stay at a beachside hotel & snorkel in coral-rich waters
  • Led by an expert naturalist guide

Food

All included in the price.

Accommodation

Comfortable hotels and lodges, all with private facilities.

Green Turtle

Green Turtle

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Cancún; overnight Akumal

Day 2/4 Akumal

Day 5/6 Chichen Itza

Day 7/9 Río Lagartos Biosphere Reserve

Day 10 Depart Cancún

Day 11 Arrive London

Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula is a beguiling place. Here, charming colonial towns sit alongside 10th century pyramids, while nearby there are magnificent forests, rivers and coastal habitats, all extremely rich in wildlife. This is a land in which ancient ruins rise from the forests above powder-white beaches and turquoise seas, in which thousands of flamingoes take to the wing painting the sky crimson, and where the call of Black Howler Monkeys echoes through reserves managed by people whose faces bear witness to their ancient Maya heritage. It is hard to picture a place in which history and modernity are more tightly or attractively entwined, or that boasts such a pleasant all-round travel experience, with culture, food, climate and ambience all competing to delight the senses.

We begin our holiday with a flight to Cancún airport, followed by a short transfer to the coastal town of Akumal, which means ‘Place of the Turtles’ in the native Mayan language. The Caribbean waters here have long provided a sanctuary for these marine creatures, and four species of sea turtle occur here. However, during our 4-night stay, it is the Green Turtle that we may expect to see and we will have the opportunity to snorkel amongst them as they feed on the sea grass beds.

The Yucatán Peninsula boasts some of the most remarkable Maya ruins in all of Mexico and our exploration of the region’s Maya heritage starts with a visit to the ruins in Tulum, which tower over a rugged coastline blessed with exquisite beaches and tempting waters. Just a kilometre to the south of Tulum is an interesting ancient Maya archway, and beyond this lies today’s Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. On leaving Akumal, we will spend a full day deep within this fabulous reserve, exploring its wetlands mostly by boat. Hundreds of species of tropical fish inhabit the waters here, as does a small population of West Indian Manatees, while American Crocodile sightings are frequent! The reserve is also a haven for birds, with well over 300 species having been recorded, amongst them Black Skimmer, Reddish Egret, Black-headed Trogon, Mangrove Warbler and the rare Jabiru stork.

On one day we will venture a little further inland to Coba, where we will enjoy an early morning visit to a small community reserve in the heart of the jungle. Here, the local Maya community has formed a co-operative to guide tourists around this ecologically important area that is also their home. Geoffroy’s Spider Monkeys whirl through the trees with their long limbs and prehensile tails whilst Black Howler Monkeys are also possible. As the day begins to warm up and wildlife activity subsides, we will return to Coba and its beautiful Maya ruins. The rugged temples, pyramids and ancient ball courts are surrounded by dense jungle, and for those who wish to climb to the top of the Nohoch Mul pyramid, the views are stunning. There will also be an opportunity to visit one of the nearby cenotes, the sheer number of which are a well-known feature of the Yucatán. These incredible limestone sinkholes were considered by the ancient Maya to be sacred gateways to the underworld. Whilst we do not plan on going quite that far, there can be few better ways to start your day in the Yucatán than with a refreshing morning dip in the beautifully clear water of these underground caverns.

After a final night on the Caribbean coast, we begin our journey inland and, after a brief stop in the colonial town of Valladolid, we will arrive at the charming Hacienda Chichen hotel. Here we will be perfectly positioned for a visit to the spectacular ruins at Chichen Itza, and in the early mornings we can enjoy such birds as Yucatan Jay, Keel-billed Toucan, Collared Aracari, Turquoise-browed Motmot and the attractive Oscellated Turkey. Mammals are present too, though harder to find, and a sharp eye will be required to spot the resident White-nosed Coatis or a Northern Tamandua.

After two nights at this beautiful hotel and bird refuge, we return to the coast. This time we will travel north to the Río Lagartos Biosphere Reserve, in which lies our beachside hotel. Here, we will take boat trips into the mangroves to enjoy the resident and migratory birds, explore the reserve’s wooded trails and snorkel in warm, coral-rich waters. The star attraction, however, is a concentration of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of fiery orange-red American Flamingoes that gather here. If we time it right, and are able to witness the birds as they take to the skies en masse, the horizon will glow crimson as if the sun is setting.

After nine days and a thorough exploration of this captivating corner of Mexico, it will be time to return to Cancún’s international airport, and our evening flight home to the UK. 

El Casillo, Chichen Itza (Kerrie Porteous)Green Turtle (Kerrie Porteous)Green Turtle (Kerrie Porteous)Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve (Hugh Tottle)Mexico's Caribbean Coast (Kerrie Porteous)Keel-bill Toucan (Peter Dunn)Bare-throated Tiger Heron (Peter Spillett)Naturetrek group at Coba (Karel Beets)White-fronted Parrot (Peter Spillett)Yucatan Woodpecker (Peter Spillett)Yucatan Jay (Peter Spillett)American Crocodile (Carolyn Barnett)Collared Aracari (Janice Fiske)Green Turtle (Kerrie Porteous)Black-headed Trogon (Peter Spillett)Mexican Sheartail (Peter Spillett)Punta Laguna reserve (Kerrie Porteous)Yucatan Spider Monkey (Kerrie Porteous)Yucutan Spider Monkey (Kerrie Porteous)Turquoise-browed Motmot (Peter Spillett)Orchard Oriole (Hugh Tottle)Little Blue Heron (Byron Palacios)Hooded Oriole (Hugh Tottle)Roseate Spoonbill (Byron Palacios)Grupo de las Mil Coumnas, Chichen Itza (Kerrie Porteous)Cenote entrance (Kerrie Porteous)Ocellated Turkey (Byron Palacios)Boat-billed Heron (Byron Palacios)Sacred Cenote at Chichen Itza (Kerrie Porteous)Iguana (Kerrie Porteous)Valladolid (Kerrie Porteous)Nohoch Mul, Coba (Kerrie Porteous)View from the top of Nohoch Mul, Coba (Kerrie Porteous)Ruins at Coba (Kerrie Porteous)P1030584 (2)Time for your close up! (Karel Beets)Green Turtle (Peter Spillett)Hooded Oriole (Peter Spillett)Painted Bunting (Peter Spillett)Prothonotary Warbler (Peter Spillett)Short-tailed Hawk (Peter Spillett)El Castillo (The Kukulkan Temple) of Chichen Itza
M.B.
Derbyshire
I really enjoy trips like this one that cater for a wide range of interests and where some of the history and culture is included.
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Sat 4th November 2017 - Tue 14th November 2017

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£3595

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Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: More info

Land only cost: £3095 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Mexico

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I really enjoy trips like this one that cater for a wide range of interests and where some of the history and culture is included.
M.B., Derbyshire